Vocational and Technical InstitutesIn today's job market, education and expertise are more important than ever. But spending four years in a bachelor's degree program is not the only way to get the skills and training you need for a really great career. Community colleges, vocational institutes and technical institutes offer two-year associate degrees, which prepare you to jump right into a variety of careers including:
• web design
• culinary arts
• medical technician
• massage therapy
Technical Training Saves Time and Earns Money
If you are good at working with people, detail-oriented, and professional, then you are a good candidate for vocational or technical training. If you know that your chosen career doesn't require a four-year degree, then getting your degree or certification at a community college or vocational institute will save you both time and money.
Associate degrees generally require only two years to complete, and some technical training programs may take as little as six months. With your diploma in hand, you'll be ready to jump right into your chosen career.
Turning Your Diploma into Dollars
Getting a two-year associate degree may mean you spent less time in school, but it doesn't mean you will be earning less of a paycheck. With your specialized technical training, you can earn as much or more than many professionals with four-year degrees.
For example, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) as of May 2009, the mean annual salary for paralegals is $50,080. Or, if you are more interested in healthcare science careers, you can study to a medical or clinical laboratory technician. The BLS reports that medical and clinical lab technicians made a mean annual salary of $37,860 as of May 2009.
Community College or Vocational Institute?
As you begin to shop around for the program that is right for you, it's important to know where to look. Community colleges generally offer two-year associate degrees in numerous areas of study. Technical institutes, vocational schools, or applied training centers generally offer specific technical training courses and certification programs, which vary in length depending on the individual program.
A Closer Look at a Typical Two-Year Associate Degree
Before you get that diploma with your name on it, you have to complete certain requirements, which may include certain classes, a set number of training hours, an internship, or certification exams. Typical course requirements for a two-year associate degree, for example, in paralegal studies involve taking core classes in required subjects like legal research and writing, paralegal procedures, and ethics.
You will also have the opportunity to take elective courses, which you choose based on your interest. In a paralegal studies program, these could be classes such as family law, mediation, or securities, among many others.
Take the First Step
Getting specialized technical training or an associate degree from a technical institute or community college is a great first step in building your long-term career. Not only will you gain the education and expertise you need to succeed, but you will save yourself time and tuition money.
Whether you know exactly what field you want to get into, or you want to get into the workforce right away, you should check to see if there is a vocational school or program that fits your needs and goals.
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Phoenix College in Phoenix, Arizona
Phoenix College, part of the Maricopa community college district, is one of the largest regional education systems in the United States and is the biggest provider of post-high school education and career training in the state of Arizona. You can learn more about this school as it gets ready to celebrate its 100-year anniversary.